Old Gretsch I Bought Yesterday

Wayne Gretschzky

Country Gent
Aug 27, 2008
3,325
East Coast
The American Orchestra model line (pre-war) pooped-out in the 1940/41 timeframe at around serial number 8000. In fact the latest serial numbers I've been able to document are #79xx... so the OP's guitar is a VERY late AO specimen. It's evident that during the time period, just before WWII interrupted production at the Gretsch Brooklyn factory, they were piecing together guitars from spare parts, and we find a lot of odd-ball examples with mixed features between the AO and Synchromatic model lines.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
17,026
lafayette in
Here are pics of the DeArmond Guitar Mike. It's pretty simple so I don't see any problems replacing the rotted cable. as long as the pickup coils are still good it should work great.
You're right. It does need rewiring. Monkey on a stick DeArmond's can be worth a few bucks.
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
You're right. It does need rewiring. Monkey on a stick DeArmond's can be worth a few bucks.
I am going to fix itfor sure. but it's going to stay with this guitar. They have been together for so long it would be a shame to sell it off. Plus I bought this stuff so cheap I don't need to sell any of it to try and get my money back. They basically gave it away.
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
That's a FHC pickup, I have three of them and they sound great. DeArmond's are famous for rotting wire, all mine needed replacement. The coil wire is tiny so I hope your eyesight is good when you're soldering. The black jumper wire outside the case is not stock, just solder the new ground inside the case. Actually that does look stock, is that a spring clip? yours looks a bit different from mine, that's a real old one.
Yes that is a spring clip not a ground. I have been researching these and the spring clip version was the first style DeArmond made. Plus it has the original bakelite knob
 

wildeman

I Bleed Orange
May 10, 2015
16,057
norcal
I am going to fix itfor sure. but it's going to stay with this guitar. They have been together for so long it would be a shame to sell it off. Plus I bought this stuff so cheap I don't need to sell any of it to try and get my money back. They basically gave it away.
When I found my '44 New Yorker in a local shop I noticed they had a old FHC in the counter, I asked if they came in together and sure enough they did, they are still together too.
 

Jelly Roll Horton

Country Gent
Nov 10, 2017
1,895
Portland, OR
Valparaiso. But i have been living in Florida for 42 years
Not to wander too far from the OP, but I like these side topics, so my contribution is, growing up in north Portland in the fifties we put our car in the gararge or the grage, and when we went high-end shopping, we went "over town", not downtown.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
The American Orchestra model line (pre-war) pooped-out in the 1940/41 timeframe at around serial number 8000. In fact the latest serial numbers I've been able to document are #79xx... so the OP's guitar is a VERY late AO specimen. It's evident that during the time period, just before WWII interrupted production at the Gretsch Brooklyn factory, they were piecing together guitars from spare parts, and we find a lot of odd-ball examples with mixed features between the AO and Synchromatic model lines.
That was my initial take too, but the OP found what appears to be an exact match in the 1939 catalog listed as a Synchromatic 75. Obviously, it is the descendent of the American Orchestra Model 65, but based on that catalog image, it was officially part of the Synchromatic line by 1939 at the latest.
SAVE0081.jpg
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
Well I have started really looking it over. I thought it had just one color on the binding. Now after looking at it close up I see it's 2 tone with 4 separate bands. It starts with black against the body then ivory, black, and lastly ivory. On all the pics I have seen of these I have not seen one with binding like this. Is it normal to see these with 2 color bindings using 4 separate strips? Also it's almost 9mm wide. Is that the norm with these?
 

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Wayne Gretschzky

Country Gent
Aug 27, 2008
3,325
East Coast
That was my initial take too, but the OP found what appears to be an exact match in the 1939 catalog listed as a Synchromatic 75. Obviously, it is the descendent of the American Orchestra Model 65, but based on that catalog image, it was officially part of the Synchromatic line by 1939 at the latest.
SAVE0081.jpg
I agree completely. But the Synchromatic line was so short lived ('39-'42), that the serial numbers don't go much over 3000. So they apparently stamped the Op's guitar as if it was an AO. As I said, by the #79xx batch ('42ish), they were mixing and matching aspects between the two lines. I've documented a bunch of oddball examples.
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
I agree completely. But the Synchromatic line was so short lived ('39-'42), that the serial numbers don't go much over 3000. So they apparently stamped the Op's guitar as if it was an AO. As I said, by the #79xx batch ('42ish), they were mixing and matching aspects between the two lines. I've documented a bunch of oddball examples.
So they only made the Synchromatic for 3 years? So there isn't that many of these out there then? Did they make many with the 4 layer binding? Also if anyone here has a good source for the correct binding that would be great. After measuring mine I think I am going to need something at least 9mm wide. But the thickness is a bit harder. The black pieces look to be much thinner than the ivory.
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,485
Monkey Island
Well I have started really looking it over. I thought it had just one color on the binding. Now after looking at it close up I see it's 2 tone with 4 separate bands. It starts with black against the body then ivory, black, and lastly ivory. On all the pics I have seen of these I have not seen one with binding like this. Is it normal to see these with 2 color bindings using 4 separate strips? Also it's almost 9mm wide. Is that the norm with these?

Looks like the top may have suffered quite a bit of shrinkage. I'm surprised it's still attached... You could probably hide it well with some extra black strips, or make it a feature...
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,485
Monkey Island
I don't think the top shrank, I think the banding shrunk real bad

You may well be right, I generally don't do vintage, but 9mm of binding as per your observation seems a bit excessive. Not that I've haven't seen it on Gretsches before. Just not that very often.

I suppose the tell tale sign would be the kerfing. If you can detect cuts the top has shrunk. If not, it was probably intended to have thick binding.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
Is it normal to see these with 2 color bindings using 4 separate strips?
Yes, this model always had 4-ply black and white binding.
I agree completely. But the Synchromatic line was so short lived ('39-'42), that the serial numbers don't go much over 3000. So they apparently stamped the OP's guitar as if it was an AO.
I see. I wasn't aware that the Synchromatics had a separate serial number sequence. So these were just kind of holdovers from the American Orchestra line that Gretsch rebranded as Synchromatics. It always struck me as a little odd that the lower lever Synchromatics in the 1939 catalog don't really look like Synchromatics, but more like American Orchestras (because that's kind of what they really are). It's not until you get to the Synchromatic 160 that you get the full set of Synchromatic features like elongated guards, cat's eyes, and lightbulb headstocks.
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
You may well be right, I generally don't do vintage, but 9mm of binding as per your observation seems a bit excessive. Not that I've haven't seen it on Gretsches before. Just not that very often.

I suppose the tell tale sign would be the kerfing. If you can detect cuts the top has shrunk. If not, it was probably intended to have thick binding.
I am not sure what you mean? The 9mm measurement I am talking about refers to the width of the binding not the thickness if that's what you are talking about? The thickness is right at 3mm for all 4 layers. Here are some pics of a cleaned out section.
 

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Back in Black

Country Gent
Jun 22, 2020
1,301
Ontario Canada
Hi all, Greetings from Florida. Yesterday I picked up this 1953 what looks to be a Model 6040 Synchromatic Archtop. It's in pretty rough condition needing all the bindings replaced. Plus it has a crack by one F hole. And it has some kind of black goop in different places that's going to need removed. I really like it but I am not sure if it's worth the repairs. I don't know for sure but it couldn't have been played in a long time. I am thinking this because the newspapers in the case are from 1958. Anyway what do you guys think of her? It also came with a bunch of vintage Black Diamond strings and some kind of device that I think used to be for electrifying it (It's in rough condition to). Thanks
DT,

Very Cool!

Do some research before you touch anything! I wouldn't even change the strings.

A lot of ''potential value'' could be lost by thinking you are ''fixing'' something.

This guitar is another prime example of the importance of a case.

Congratulations on the find!

Best,

BIB
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,485
Monkey Island
I am not sure what you mean? The 9mm measurement I am talking about refers to the width of the binding not the thickness if that's what you are talking about? The thickness is right at 3mm for all 4 layers. Here are some pics of a cleaned out section.

Ahh sorry, apparently I confused the thickness for width and vice versa. 😳
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
DT,

Very Cool!

Do some research before you touch anything! I wouldn't even change the strings.

A lot of ''potential value'' could be lost by thinking you are ''fixing'' something.

This guitar is another prime example of the importance of a case.

Congratulations on the find!

Best,

BIB
I have been doing LOTS of research. Reading and watching videos. there is no getting around it needing new bindings. The old is literally falling off into my hands when I touch it. It's one of those things that will take (Me anyway) months to get done. I am really good at this type of thing and I will take my time and not rush into it. You will see when I am done.
 


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